Canine Nose Work: Dog Scents, The Nose Knows!

by Mary Haight on August 4, 2011

canine nose workCanine nose work is the “hot” new dog training game in town. Dogs love interacting with their people: go get your bone, where’s Mr. Squeaky, go get your leash – fun disguised as jobs.  As they go through training, teamwork becomes an expected element in their lives – they look to their human partner to provide direction so they can follow through.  At least that’s the way it usually goes. 

Canine nose work challenges that teamwork concept, explains Kelly Gorman Dunbar, co-founder and executive editor at Dog Star Daily and Certified Nose Work Instructor.  Turning that equation of lead/follow on its head, this relatively new sport lets dogs be dogs. No more “No” on using the nose!

Canine Nose Work Is Fun

Dogs who have been well-trained, says Kelly, can have a hard time letting go of that habit of looking to their humans for direction, but the concept of taking dogs off the obedience track and allowing them to learn and trust their own instincts is like a new kind of play. 

The real bonus here is that it develops your dog’s self-confidence – very important, especially with shy dogs.  These canine nose work sessions are showing dogs how to use their noses again, as they were meant to be used.  The freedom these exercises offer must be invigorating for the dogs – you can see it even in the videos.

Canine Nose Work for City Dogs and Their Country Cousins

Canine nose work is something that all dogs can do and you don’t need a large field or park to practice in.  You and your dog are not required to work in a group where success can come in very small doses, sometimes not at all when major distractions crop up.  All of the canine nose work “tests” can be conducted in a studio apartment, no expensive equipment necessary. Country cousins have had the luxury of vast fields for mock hunting, and now city dogs get to taste something of that experience!

Listen to Edie Jarolim’s interview with Kelly Dunbar – learn the details and discover for yourself the possibilities canine nose work may hold for you and your dog at Animal Cafe.

Does this sound like something you’d like to try with *your* dog?  If you have some experience, please share!

9 comments
@HartzPets
@HartzPets

We love this nose work article! Thanks for sharing it. One of our dogs at Hartz does nose work, and we caught it on tape! You can watch it here http://bit.ly/oBNGrH

Mel
Mel

Been wanting to do this with Daisy, who has a super sniffer, but haven't worked up the courage yet. Of all the activities to do with your dogs there are only three I really want to try - nose work, sheep herding (Jasper) and Treibball. Now you're making me think I can do it in my own yard! Hmmm...

Liv
Liv

Hm this is something for me to try ASAP.

Erica Pytlovany
Erica Pytlovany

I've just started training Nosework this summer, and I've been struck by how much fun it is to let the dogs do all the work. And it's all just a game to them. I've been actively working with (playing with?) all five dogs, and I can tell you that I've never tried to do that with Rally or Agility or anything like that. I've gotten pretty hooked!

Leslie Fisher CPDT
Leslie Fisher CPDT

Mary I did a weekend nose games with Pat Miller at Peaceable Paws, and just this evening was talking in class about teaching dogs to use their noses and an innate and appropriate outlet. Great article about topic of huge importance to dogs. I will be at APDT in San Diego and hope to sit in on a nose work seminar.

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